By Guest Blogger Susan Stephens
Well…it’s that time of year again!! It doesn’t matter if this is your first child to go to preschool or your third child, going to preschool can be both exciting and tearful all at the same time.
Below you will find some helpful tips for you and your preschooler as the start of the year gets closer. Please share ideas of your own at the end of our blog!
1) Open House – Be sure to attend your child’s Open House or Orientation with his or her teacher. Most of the time, this is scheduled as a one-on-one (or even a small group) time with the teacher and the assistant right in your child’s classroom. The teachers typically want you to bring your child with you — this gives both you and the child an opportunity to see their new classroom and get acquainted with all the new sights they will be seeing each day this year.
If your child’s Open House or Orientation is a one-on-one opportunity, take this time to tell the teacher and assistant about your child. It is always best to be as honest as possible — the teacher would rather you let her know ahead of time that Julie sometimes tends to bite other children now, so they can go ahead and be prepared. Believe me — most teachers have seen most everything and nothing will come as much of a shock…so be honest and tell them all the great things about your child as well as any potential issues that might arise.
Finally, be mindful of your assigned time slot for your child’s Open House or Orientation. The teachers have assigned these times so that they can spend equal time with all the parents and children, so please arrive on time and be aware of when your time slot is coming to a close.
2) Get Familiar with the School – Take your child over to the preschool and walk around before the first day of school. Go out on the playground and let them play. The more they are familiar with the preschool building and setting, the more comfortable they will be once preschool begins. Ask your child’s teacher for a class list so you can make plans to invite some other classmates over to the preschool playground to play.
3) Tears! – More than likely…there will be tears!! It doesn’t matter if you are dropping off a 2-year-old or a 5-year-old, children will cry and parents will cry!! The teachers are ready and prepared for this and they are more than OK with you leaving your crying child with them. The longer you stay around, the harder it is to leave (for both you and your child!!) Make plans to say good-bye and leave them in the capable hands of their teacher. If it makes you feel better, most preschools will be glad for you to call back and have someone go check on your child to see if they are OK (and most often — they are fine!!)
If your child’s preschool offers a drop-off option, take advantage of it. Everyone understands walking your child in on the first day of school (I certainly plan to walk my 3rd grader and my kindergartner in on their first day!!), but after that, make plans to use the drop-off line. It may be hard at first and there may be a few tears and struggles, but like saying good-bye, it will quickly pass and you’ll be so thankful that your child is gaining independence and growing up!!
4) If You Have Concerns – Finally, if you do have any questions or concerns or just want to check in on your child with their teacher, be sure to e-mail them or give them a call. Generally speaking, drop-off and pick-up times are not always conducive for having a parent-teacher meeting. Every teacher would be love to speak to you about your child and address any concerns you might be having, but they can give you much more personal attention if they are not trying to load or unload children at the same time they are trying to talk to you. Just ask your child’s teacher what method of communication they prefer and then drop them a message or give them a call.
Most of all, remember these wonderful days of preschool will be over before you know it!!! Have fun and your child will have fun as well!!
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I could not agree more about the “the longer you stay the harder it is” part of this post. I see well-meaning parents trying to stay long enough for their child to be OK and not cry when the parent leaves. But they will cry harder, longer, the longer you stay! When you stay in the classroom, it makes it hard for the teachers to start the daily routine that will distract all the children and give them something to think about besides the parents. Just reassure yourself that even if your child cries, the sooner you leave, the sooner the teacher will be able to comfort your baby and therefore start forming a secure bond with your child.